Interpretation vs Translation: Understanding DifferencesCompanies looking for further growth will inevitably go global to engage with new customers. This poses many obstacles, the first of which is how to communicate with a foreign target audience.

To ensure that your message gets adequately conveyed and your brand resonates with clients, it is essential to engage professional translation services in Singapore, interpretation services, or both. 

While the two services share some similarities, they have differences that determine which is more appropriate to meet a company’s requirements and objectives.

Interpretation and translation

Interpretation involves relaying messages and content between two languages verbally and mostly in real-time, either consecutively or simultaneously. On the other hand, translation, as implied, transforms content from one language to another in a written format. 

While both interpretation and translation must be done to ensure culturally appropriate and linguistically accurate outcomes that resonate with the target audience, interpretation can be more challenging as it is a real test of an interpreter’s situational awareness, knowledge, and wit. 

Interpreters typically work alongside the speaker(s) in real-time, transforming their words verbally into the target language as they speak or after they have spoken a few sentences. They may also work by interpreting videos or audio clips at other prescribed times. A critical aspect of their job is accurately presenting the participants’ information and tone, which can be particularly challenging during remote scenarios where they are not all in one location.

Translators take on translation projects with a given turnaround time that depends on the project’s scope and other factors like word count, complexity, and more.

Whether they are translating simple documents or complex medical files, each project must be assigned the suitable translators who are subject matter experts. Moreover, they should be familiar with the source and target languages in the specific industry.

What differentiates interpretation and translation?

1. Medium and format 

The most notable difference between the two services is their medium of communication. Interpretation is performed verbally, either in person, on the phone, or through video conference, and requires specialisation in oral communication.

In contrast, translation mainly involves written texts and requires a comprehensive understanding of the source and target languages’ dialects, mechanics, and cultural aspects.

2. Level of accuracy

Although both services require precision, the nature of language interpretation generally does not require the same level of accuracy as translation. This does not mean interpreters do not strive for total accuracy but doing so consistently in a live quick-paced setting can be challenging. 

Translators have more time to work on projects, so they can and must focus more on the accuracy of their output. Furthermore, they generally employ a quality management system that ensures the precision of the translated content.

3. Amount of time

Since interpretation is conducted in real-time, interpreters must be adept at delivering messages while participants speak. Thus, they must be quick at comprehending and relaying messages without delay. 

Meanwhile, translators begin their work only after the source material is complete, giving them time to compile reference materials and use technology to achieve the most accurate translation of documents.

However, there are also times when on-demand translation services are necessary, thus reducing the turnaround time for the translation.

4. Source and target languages

Since interpreters facilitate conversation between two or more speakers of different languages, they must also be fluent speakers of the source and target languages. 

In contrast, most translators work on only one language pair, from a source language to a target language, focusing on an output based on the target language.


As companies work towards their goal of globalisation, they will need the assistance of translators and interpreters to collaborate with foreign entities, engage with new audiences, and address legal matters along the way.

Look no further than Eureka Translations for the best translation and interpretation services in all of Singapore. We provide prompt, precise, and peerless translation services for the most translated languages today that all our clients need and have now come to trust repeatedly.

Apart from translation and interpretation, we offer other top-notch language and creative services, including transcription, graphic design, video editing, branding, and more. Don’t hesitate to contact us today via phone or contact form to learn more about our services.

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